Farmers Steve Gliessman and Robbie Jaffe grow their grapevines and olive trees using traditional dry-farming techniques, adapting the vineyard to the surrounding natural environment. Dry-farming methods are common in parts of Europe, allowing farmers to grow grapes and olives with little or no irrigation.
The dry-farming system at Condor’s Hope works by head-pruning the vines rather than training them out on wires. The head-pruned vines leave enough space to use a tractor to till the soil after the last rain in the spring.
Tilling causes the top few inches of soil to dry out, forming a crust called a dust mulch that effectively seals in all of the rainwater that has accumulated in the ground over the rainy winter and early spring seasons. The extensive deep root systems of the vines and olive trees are able to access that groundwater all summer, making it possible for them to thrive with no irrigation.